The Royal Flush tops the list, followed by the Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pairs, Pair, and High Card. Check out the full list with explanations below.
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A pair of aces is the strongest hand you can have as your hole cards. A pair of Kings, a pair of Queens, and Ace-King suited, round out the top few hands that long time poker players would refer to as ‘group one starting hands’ - it’s also a shout-out to the well-known ranking system by David Skalansky.
A pair of Aces is the highest ranking starting hand and it is about an 85% favourite to win against one other player. Remember, poker is a game against other players and not the dealer. Knowing this, we can deduce that the chances of winning with any hand are reduced with every additional player in the hand, meaning that there are many more ways for someone at the table to draw out against you. A pair of Aces are great, but of course, they are only a pair. Against one player, you’re likely best 85% of the time, but the odds diminish with every added player as there’s more opportunity against you to catch a lucky board.
Think about hand strength as a matrix, the same way blackjack has a matrix of what you should do against the dealer when holding certain starting cards. Poker is the same. It’s about getting knowledgeable on the odds vs the number of players, and the relative strength of your hand vs the number of opponents. With poker, you also have to keep in mind the community board and how it presents itself, and should reassess your starting hand after the flop as more alternative winning possibilities present themselves on the board.
The lowest ranking starting hand in poker is 7-2 off-suit. Obviously you don’t have a chance at a high flush or straight, and you need everything to fall in your favour to make any improvement from this lowest of the low starting hand.
Good hands, in general, would be high starting pairs and high suited connectors (like 10-J of the same suit). Good poker hands are ones that have the most possibilities to turn into something higher up the ranking chart, like a Straight or a Flush. Starting hands that are unsuited, with a wide spread between the two cards are very limiting in possibilities of what they can turn into.
It’s very helpful to break down thinking of good hands as pre-flop hands vs after the flop hands. A lot of hands have potential, but you may need to pay to see the flop, if other players are betting and/or raising. If there’s a way to see the flop cheaply, usually because of your position at the table, or it’s been checked and you’re one of the blinds, you’ve got good value to see if your hand develops into something. What you don’t want to do is pay a premium to see a flop with a less than premium hand!
When we talk about best poker hands, we’re usually referring to the poker rankings. There are no debatable opinions on this one, it’s simply the way things are. Here are the best poker hands, ranked from the best hand to the lowest:
A poker hand refers to a five-card hand. In most games, Aces are high and all four suits are in play as poker uses a standard deck of cards. However, given we’re in the age of variations, poker games can often have Wilds involved, Aces as low, or can deal with smaller poker hands as in Three Card Poker.
Making us do math, are you? We’re game. This calculator starts with a standard deck of 52 cards. And you’re asking, how many combinations of 5 cards can a 52-card deck create? The answer is an astonishing 2,598,960. While this number may seem extreme, keep in mind that you’re dealing with Royal Flush rankings all the way down to single mismatches of High Card hands. So, given that, it easily adds up with a variety of combinations.
The highest hand is synonymous with the highest ranking hand in poker - which is the Royal Flush. This is really a matter of semantics - top-ranked hand, highest poker hand, best hand. No matter how you pose the question, Royal Flush is your answer.
Super fun trivia with this one. The dead man’s hand holds two pair - black Aces and black eights. Legend has it that this was the poker hand of gunfighter, lawman, and folk hero, Wild Bill Hickok when he met his murderous doom.
Truer words have never been spoken. A Royal Flush is the highest ranking poker hand and consists of an Ace high sequential run (Ace, King, Queen, Jack & 10), all in the same suit. Of course, you can win a poker hand with less, if you hold the top ranking hand at your specific table, even if that hand is two pair!
The simple use of the term ‘lucky’ in this question implies that the hand won when it should not have. Perhaps you got ‘lucky’ on the flop/turn/river and to boot, convinced the other players to call your bet, as your ‘lucky’ hand was disguised to a point where its win was unassumed! Or perhaps you have two hole cards that are your favourite to play and for some reason or another (not the odds), they work out for you! In the end though, every hand’s win/loss ratio is a function of the odds and number of players in the hand…but there’s always a chance!
Players with the same hand, tie. They’ll split the pot by the number of players in the hand. Casinos and software have stated rules for what to do with uneven split amounts - in some cases the residual goes to the player nearest the deal button.
Read more about poker in our guides: